While the sea gives Intermède its horizon, the boats themselves transform into silky landscapes gleaming with seaweed. The frame struggles to contain the imposing objects that fill it entirely at times and which men gird with ropes, cables and chains to make manipulating them easier. They experience these objects as an environment explored with their hands and which envelops them with its sounds – gratings and creakings against the background noise of breaking waves. In the credits, we discover that the images were filmed over seven years. The timeless black and white of the 16mm film has transported us into a cyclical and seemingly unchanging present. A choreography unfolds: the men have to defy gravity, haul tired boats out of the water, then push them back into the sea. Maria Kourkouta deconstructs the linearity of their tasks to film relationships of texture and scale, little fellows against massive boats. Wood and metal seem to have a mind of their own, stirred by spontaneous movements. They too are at work, under the momentum of the workers. Set to a musical montage, the men’s gestures imprint a tidal rhythm on the boats: the blackened hulls come to lap the shore, then retreat again once cared for. The silver salts of the photochemical emulsion express the apposition of materials, make the waves and floating bodies dance together in the same interplay of gravitational forces. A sensual poem is composed, as if to preserve the memory of lives that still belong to the physical realm.
Maria Kourkouta is a filmmaker, editor and producer, born in Greece, in 1982. After studying history, she moved to Paris where she studied film theory. She makes films since 2010, mostly in 16mm film. After her short film Return To Aeolus Street in 2014 (Arte Prize for Best European short film at Oberhausen FF), she co-directed in 2016 her first feature film with the poet Niki Giannari, Spectres Are Haunting Europe (Best international documentary at Jihlava’s FF). She has been an active member of the french artist-run film laboratories L’Etna and L’Abominable for more than ten years.
Claire Atherton, André Fèvre